EL AL Israel Airlines is moving from the absurd to the insane…and without advance notice.
EL AL either has a very high self-esteem or considers its Matmid loyalty customers to be a bunch of suckers. Redemption values have been historically poor, as has award space. For example, a one-way business class ticket from Los Angeles to Tel Aviv costs 3,500 Matmid points and about $200.
While EL AL Matmid is a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards, the transfer ratio is 50 AMEX for every 1 Matmid point. So that 3,500 one-way journey from LAX to TLV will set you back 175,000 points in business class.
You can book the same ticket with Qantas for 104,000 points…what do you think is a better deal?
But as if that was not bad enough already, EL AL is moving in a more dynamic direction for award travel pricing. Now, if your flight does not have “classic” award space (hereafter referred to as saver space), you can still buy it. But it will cost you…dearly.
Now hold that thought.
Horrible, Horrible Website
Pricing is one thing, the website is something else. While award charts are still published (for now), there is no longer a way to easily search for this “saver” award space on the EL AL website.
Instead, you now must use a single revenue/award search engine on the EL AL homepage which requires quite the acrobatics to actually find what you are looking for.
Here’s the catch. If you don’t have enough points in your account for a saver award, you’ll see far-higher dynamic pricing only.
Let’s return to our Los Angeles to Tel Aviv example. If you want to search for award space, you first log into your Matmid account, then slide the “Show prices in points & Award tickets” tab in the upper right hand corner of the flight search box.
I searched for LAX-TLV on Wednesday and these were the initial results:
Seriously, 14,613 Matmid points plus $446 for a one-way business class ticket? 14,613 Matmid points is 730,650 AMEX Membership Rewards points! #Delta_pricing
It is only when you make a selection and log in again and you have the sufficient points in your account already that the so-called saver level pricing shows, if available.
Why 2,975 instead of 3,500 in the screenshot above? EL-AL discounts awards slightly for Executive Members of the Matmid program or EL AL co-branded credit card holders. 2,975 Matmid points is still 148,750 AMEX MR points…
So to repeat, unless you have the points in your account already, you won’t know if there is saver seats available, at least not on the EL AL website.
Two Ways To Search For “Saver” Space
You can still search for saver award space on EL AL via two methods that are far easier than the trial and error process on EL AL’s website.
First, Qantas has an easy-to-use online search engine that shows EL AL award space.
Any space you see on Qantas should be bookable at saver/classic levels on the EL AL website. But, if you have AMEX points there is no need to even consider transferring to EL AL versus using Qantas.
Second, you can use Expert Flyer, which taps directly into EL AL’s system to let you know if saver awards are available.
But over time, those A, X, P, and E fare buckets could disappear or be rendered meaningless as EL AL considers a fully-dynamic model. Again, you won’t be able to even search the EL AL website for “Classic Awards” if you do not have sufficient points in your account.
While the EL AL Matmid loyalty program has never represented a particularly good value, the latest changes suggest a very dangerous devaluation on the horizon. I’m not telling you to go out and spend all your points today, but please be aware of the direction EL AL is moving in…all in the name of simplicity. If EL AL does pull saver award space and offer only dynamically-priced awards, an already-bad loyalty program will be laughably worthless.
What do you think of EL AL’s Matmid frequent flyer program?
How easy is it to earn the points? I see it’s a 50:1 rate for Amex, but how many points if you fly them?
Maybe 6000 points is actually quite good, but only if you earn the points through flying.
How is this a devaluation? Beforehand when there was no award space you had to pay cash, now you can use (a lot) of points.
Is it a crappy website? Definitely
At a rate worse than 1 cent per point? Only a fool would credit to this program.
More importantly, the new system makes it much harder for people to find saver level space and requires prospective transfers prior to booking. Not good.
I think its 1000:20 ratio if I’m not mistakeing and they have already pulled inventory from expert flyer a few days ago for like 2 days and it’s back so I wouldn’t think it will go away
1000:20 os the EXACT same as 50:1.
Another anti-Semitic post on this blog.
Whoever blesses Israel will be blessed,
And whoever curses Israel will be cursed.
How come 3% of the population comprised 50% of Hollywood actors and directors, comprises 50% of ceos of Fortune 500 companies, comprised 50% of publishing executives and media executives. I don’t think it is through hard work or greater intelligence but scheming.
Can’t figure out whos’s dumber, Andy or Jack. Both of you can bugger off.
I am an El Al frequent flier who lives in Israel and yes I agree. They play us for fools and suckers. But I feel comfortable flying them. I like the airline. I wish they would be better in terms of their business practices.
Hey, don’t insult the good name of Delta Pricing! At 700,000 Skymiles, you can *buy* outright a revenue business class to Europe.
Israeli here: I stopped using El Al many years ago. Their frequent flyer program was never attractive. Prices are e
Always higher, especially if you book last minute. The only thing good about them is the security.
I can see why people would find their website problematic. Many Israeli companies design with Israeli customers in mind (Hebrew speaking, right to left writing, and not tested on mass scale). Also, service, and ease of use (i.e. UI, UX) is not their top priority, so IA m not surprised.
BTW, this is the only company in the world that does not fly on Saturday (Shabbat). Imagine any other company having to ground all their fleet for one day every week and still trying to be profitable… Just crazy.
El-Al always have had a captive audience of frequent flyers who travel to and from Israel often and who will only fly with them and never consider the competition no matter what the price.
So, they can do what the like with their frequent flyer scheme because that large and solid core of business always will remain loyal.
For others and to fill the remainder of their seats, the pricing is usually very competitive and while security is their most prominent feature the rest of the product is OK, nothing stunning but OK so they fill the planes. Most of those people will not and never will be frequent travelers to Israel and with only AeroMexico and Qantas as partners then the attraction to dedicated points collectors is very small.
Alaska is a new EL AL partner – despite that I know that some value EL AL but even the Frum got burned last year flying an airline that is not truly shabbos shomer, when flight crew we’re delayed they still departed knowing that the flight would land after sunset.
As well IIRC that El AL also subs out flights or planes to Sun airlines on Shabbos.
We were in Israel this past March and April, that said we flew PE on BA for PDX- SEA-LHR-TLV for the same price and travel time 17hrs vs EL AL PDX-LAX-TLV in Eco, vs 16-18hrs
(14 hrs nonstop LAX-TLV ).
Crediting BA flights to AS far more valuable than Econ on EL AL.
As for security the extra hassle of the additional layer of security when flying on El.Al even from the US – not being able to check bags straight thru to TLV.
PE on BA also allowed us more checked bags.
I digress, yeah EL AL FF program and prices often leave alot to be desired.
you’re a fool.
Used to fly a lot between Telaviv and hongkong. Stopped flying with Elal because of their racial profiling. Now if i fly, i fly with Cathy pacific, can not tolerate any more Elal’s racist treatment. I am a Chinese.
You’re looking at it as an American, but El Al’s Matmid targets Israelis. It makes a big difference.
For Israelis, two factors change the picture:
1. El Al’s dominance in TLV.
2. Israli credit cards offer almost no benefits.
El Al naturally offers more routes from TLV than any other carrier, with some exclusive routes (e.g. BKK, BOM, LAX). If you prefer direct flights, and want to stick to one loyalty program, El Al is at an advantage (Star Alliance is next, but offers much fewer direct destinations).
Most Israelis see a credit card as a convenient way to pay. Cards offer some bonuses, but with very low value compared to cards in the USA. Comparing to this, El Al’s FlyCard, which lets you accumulate Matmid points, is a rather attractive option. Accumulation is very slow in American standards, but it’s better than nothing.
The inability to see fares if you don’t have the points is only relevant if you transfer points from other sources. Otherwise, why would you care about fares you can’t get? But in Israel this option doesn’t really exist, so it’s no big deal for Israelis.
Having said that, I don’t think Matmid is a good program. I just think that for an Isralis it may still be a valid option.
If I can just make one point based on my recent experiences regarding qantas / elal . Although the points value is better with qantas, the availibily for elal flights is TERRIBLE. A fraction of what is available on ELAL is made available on qantas. If somebody here feels otherwise, I would love to hear what i am doing wrong.
Matt, have you ever priced how many miles UA,AA,or DL wants for their Biz Award Anytime seat when there are but a few left (at times even when the cabin is almost empty)? Im not gonna wave the LY flag, but for say an Israeli who charges tons on their CC where they earn Matmid pts and only want to fly Biz, it just might be no different then folks I know who charge MILIONS of $$$s every year on their US CC and wouldnt bat an eye when UA wants 350K 1 way and they get Biz Seats for their entire family
Or is it any different then say Hilton where I just booked what turned out to be the last standard room @ 80K and now its 288K for the next level room which isnt a suite and doesnt have any view to speak about.
Welcome to 2020